Indo-U.S. defense co-operation
India and U.S. are moving closer to defence co-operation than ever before. Pictured: Indian Air Force (IAF) special forces Reuters

In what can be seen as a boost to United States-India defence relationship ahead of Indian PM Narendra Modi's visit to Washington D.C., the U.S. House of Representatives approved the decision to go ahead with the bipartisan legislative amendment in National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA)-2017. This would put India on par with the U.S.' NATO allies with regards to defence trade, including transfer of technology and sale of defence equipment.

This amendment would "seek to promote greater defence trade and encourage additional military cooperation between the United States and India," said Congressman George Holding of the Republican party, speaking in favour of the amendment on the floor of the House of Representatives, the Press Trust of India reported.

"I believe that by requiring our government to take actions such as strengthening Defence Technology and Trade Initiative and encouraging combined military planning with India, we can make certain that the U.S.-India defence relationship endures," PTI quoted Holding as saying.

He also stressed on boosting U.S.-India strategic partnership forward and building on past successes, given the "dynamic nature" of the Indo-Pacific region and the significance to the U.S.' national security and future economic growth.

The amendment was co-sponsored by Holding and Congressman Ami Bera of the Democratic Party (House India Caucus Chairs), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Elliot Engel.

Similarly, last week we saw Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn (Senate India Caucus Chairs) introduce a similar bill in the Senate. Interestingly, Senator Marco Rubio, the former Republican Presidential hopeful reportedly became a co-sponsor of the bill, this week.

It is only when both Senate and House of Representatives pass the NDAA-2017 amendment will it reach U.S. President Barack Obama, who can then sign it into a law.

The PTI reports that this bill will allow the U.S. to designate an official, who will be focussing on U.S.-India defence cooperation, assisting in the transfer of defence technology, which has been crucial to the Indian side. It will also allow U.S. government to maintain a special office in the Pentagon that is devoted to U.S.-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

It also urges the U.S. government to enhance the military capabilities of India in terms of combined military planning and to promote the co-production and co-development opportunities for both of them.

As far as India is concerned, it promotes the Indian government to "allow combined military planning with the U.S. for missions of mutual interest like the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, and maritime domain awareness," PTI reported.